In the outreach aspects of my work, I aspire to improve the processes of community and citizen science to include more diverse publics and to create a pathway to give participatory science data much greater impact than simply a tool for “scientific literacy.” Getting serious about diversifying science, participatory or otherwise, involves asking hard questions about who isn’t present and why. Understanding the barriers to participation is key in answering these questions. In addition to providing appropriately tailored training — ideally sharing sophisticated tools with people who typically have no access to them — and featuring and promoting community knowledge in combination with professional scientific knowledge, I also support applied research driven by community concerns. Many times, communities know more about a topic or system than an outsider does, and therefore can define research questions that are both more relevant and deeply insightful.
The Muonde Trust GPS Team & Collaborative Modeling Process
As part of my postdoctoral research working with The Muonde Trust in Zimbabwe, I supported a core group of mapping researchers within the larger community-based Muonde research team. The team is composed of rural subsistence farmers engaged in long-term research projects. My work with this group includes visiting and working closely with them, developing a set of “How-To” sheets on mapping and computer use, and providing encouragement and technical support via smartphone and email. I have learned a great deal about their barriers to participation, which included varying levels of English (addressed by encouraging peer-learning in Shona in addition to my English instruction), varying roles based on gender (addressed by meeting at times when women’s responsibilities allowed them to attend), and having more or less education or familiarity with technology (addressed by giving extra time for those who learn slowly as well as pairing them with more advanced students). This training has given the community a great deal of agency, both psychological and practical. Not only do they feel more confident in their use of technology and their ability to map their own resources, but they are also in a position to highlight deficits in key infrastructure and in some cases rectify them on their own. We have published the details of our mapping teaching, learning, and applications in Development Engineering.
In addition, we have been working together to create an Agent-Based Model (ABM) representing their agro-pastoral system. By basing our work on information the community had gathered over the last three decades, iterating with them on the development of tools, and keeping the decision-making squarely in their hands, we were able to create infrastructure they could use to discuss land-use planning and management with local leaders while at the same time reinforcing their own self-confidence and abilities to make their own lives better. We were also able to involve women in the modeling workshops through careful attention to barriers preventing them from attending: including childcare support, paying non-participants to cook food for the group, and making sure that when understanding explanations in English was a challenge, there was plenty of explanation in Shona, their native language.
California Naturalist Program
The California Naturalist Program is a statewide program at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources division. Its mission is to “foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California’s natural resources through education and service.” I have served on committees for the Biennial CalNat Conferences in 2014 and 2016, both on the larger committee and on the Scholarships subcommittee. I believe it is important to ensure that Naturalists who have financial challenges can still attend the conference. I am also a member of the UC ANR California Naturalist Workgroup which serves in an advisory role to the statewide program. With Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Save Mount Diablo, and Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, I successfully graduated the first cohort of the Diablo California Naturalist Program in Winter 2017. I have continued to co-instruct and advise teaching teams on the following cohorts (Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019), and I have most recently supported the development of the Winter 2022 course.
Graduate Students in Extension: Working Group and Pilot Program
As a graduate student, I worked with faculty, extension specialists, and administration at the department, college, and UC-wide level to develop a graduate student extension (GSE) training program pilot to afford students in the College of Natural Resources opportunities to learn about cooperative extension and outreach. As a land-grant institution, the University of California has an additional mandate other than research and teaching: extension. Cooperative extension is about outreach to communities and landowners and policymakers, with the intention to put research in the hands of those who need it most.
Many academics know that there are not enough faculty positions for all graduate students to follow in their advisors’ footsteps. With the GSE program, we hoped to give students a wider set of career training options and experiences in terms of what they can do with their degree. In addition, many students want their work to have a real impact, and extension is a wonderful way to bring research out to the larger world where it can be particularly effective and for researchers to work with communities to set appropriate research agendas. UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources includes some fantastic Extension Specialists, and the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management was encouraged in its 2012 external review to get students connected with specialists: hence the creation of Graduate Student Extension (GSE) positions. Luke Macaulay and I held a graduate seminar on extension in Spring 2013, inviting extension advisors (agents), staff, and specialists from all over the state to come speak with us; in Fall 2013 and throughout 2014 we held several workshops on extension skills and an annual Extension Showcase. I worked with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources to create a formal program for graduate training in extension: you can see all the great work students have done at their webpage. I also worked with Karen Andrade, a member of the graduate student extension and outreach working group, who led the initiative to create a UC Berkeley Science Shop, winning funding from the Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition. The Science Shop worked with undergraduates in Environmental Science to connect the students’ capstone projects with local community needs.
I wrote an article about the Extension and Outreach Working Group in the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals’ quarterly newsletter: Guaranteeing the Future of Cooperative Extension: A training program for graduate students and presented at UC Agricultural and Natural Resources’ 2015 Joint Strategic Initiative conference on the GSE program. The program ultimately continued past its initial pilot and a number of fellows have been hired into UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension academic positions in the last few years.
I’ve worked at Lindsay Wildlife off and on for many years. I was a high school volunteer or “Interpretive Guide” from 1992-1998; I learned a great deal about public speaking and about native California wildlife, as well as designing a pet care class, managing the younger volunteers, and running our pet lending library (giving families a week of experience caring for a rat, rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster). Nearly 10 years later, I returned to the San Francisco bay area and resumed working at Lindsay as a Museum Interpreter, first volunteering from 2008-2009 and then working as a part-time employee from 2009-2013. (You can read an interview on Lindsay’s blog from when I was hired as staff, with the addition of a picture with me and our male turkey vulture Diablo.) My role as a Museum Interpreter was to give presentations on our resident non-releasable animals (ranging from a grey fox to raptors of all shapes and sizes to a rattlesnake) and our behind the scenes exhibit on our Wildlife Hospital, as well as informal interpreting and conversation with visitors of all ages. My long history with Lindsay came into play when the City of Walnut Creek was about to cut the budget, and you can see me give a 3-minute speech pleading for them to save the funding. Most recently, we collaborated on a Diablo-focused California Naturalist certification course at Lindsay, in partnership with Save Mount Diablo and the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association.
Indigenous Mapping Network @ UC Berkeley
I served for a year as a student officer for the IMN chapter founded at UC Berkeley by Sibyl Diver and Rosemarie McKeon. IMN@UCBerkeley convened mapping practitioners, indigenous community members, indigenous rights organizations, researchers, and technology professionals to discuss current issues in indigenous mapping. Our meetings were intended to create a platform for supporting indigenous mapping collaborations and linking communities with emerging technologies.
We organized a speaker series in 2009-2010, and I wrote articles on several of the talks given by our invited speakers. I have reproduced the articles, below, with permission from the speakers.
I also spent some time consulting with the Pinoleville Pomo Nation on oak management and mapping technologies. I demonstrated Google Earth to the PPN as well as helping give a presentation on Sudden Oak Death.
IMN@UCBerkeley Speaker Articles:
Incorporating Indigenous Knowledge to Improve Conservation through Data Sharing
A Personal Journey with Geospatial Education and Tribal Colleges
Whakairo te whenua, Whakairo te tangata: Carve the land, Carve the People
Clues on the Map: Using Historical Maps to Recreate California Indigenous Landscapes in a GIS
Na to rourou, na taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi: Your basket of knowledge & my basket of knowledge – combined our tribe will thrive & survive!
Ecosystem-Based Conservation Planning with Canadian Indigenous People: Using GIS to Facilitate Ecologically and Culturally Sustainable Land Use
OpenSource Mapping with First Nations in British Columbia